Benchmark Institute is a training and performance development
organization dedicated to increasing the quality and quantity of
legal services to low-income communities.
"I am speaking out about this because I was an educator for
twenty years before I became a Senator. I speak out because as a Senator,
I have been in a school almost every two weeks for the past ten years and
I have seen, as you have, the inequality so many children confront. I also
have seen how much difference a good system, a good school and a good
teacher can make for a child.
"That all citizens will be given an equal start through a sound education
is one of the most basic, promised rights of our democracy. Our chronic
refusal as a nation to guarantee that right for all children, including
poor children, is a national disgrace. We cannot be so blind that we do
not see that meeting the most basic needs of so many of our children
condemns them to lives and futures of frustration, chronic
underachievement, poverty and violence.
"But, in the end, this is a spiritual issue for me. We must invest in the
skills and intellect and character of our children, not because we know
that if we do, they will be more likely to graduate from high school and
less likely to be involved in crime, although that is true. We must invest
in children not because they will be more likely to go on to college and
to lead more productive lives, although that is also true. We should
invest in the skills and intellect and character of our children because
they are all under four feet tall, they are all beautiful and we should be
nice to them."
Senator Paul Wellstone (1944-2002)